Some Insight: Tastes Like Tiger

The Insight Bowl was a fun time for all. Not as magical, nor as mystical, as the event 52 weeks earlier in Miami, but fun nevertheless.

Which is the positive of the bowl system. It gives teams like KU and Minnesota, who are in the "Others receiving votes" category (or even not that high in the college football pecking order) a nice outing to far off distant and (usually) warmer climes the last week of December, and give their fans an opportunity to enjoy watching and/or following their team one final time before the full onset of basketball season.

So keep the thirty bowls that are nothing more than exhibitions. Nothing wrong with having a little fun.

But for God’s sake, let’s have a few meaningful games as well. It is hard for me to understand why anyone would not want to see the top teams play each other with something on the line. And who wouldn’t want to see more games between teams from major conferences in September, rather than having to wait until December because the top teams refuse to play each other in the regular season—afraid that a loss will knock them out of contention for the pretend National Championship?

The BCS has destroyed September and December, with its proponents proclaiming that a playoff would undermine October and November—which, of course, is bull.

As I have noted before, there is no good reason to deny the teams and the fans a playoff. At some point, what is logical and right will prevail: we will have fewer exhibition games and more games that matter.

Until that day, the Insight, Alamo, Cotton, Orange, Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, et al., will still be fun.

But just fun.

OU vs. Texas: Stop the Whining Whitlock, Herbstreit, James. . .

Jason Whitlock threw in his two cents this morning on the three way tie scenario that plagued the South. His take was, basically, UT beat OU head to head on a neutral field. Case closed. Yada, yada, yada. Blah, blah, blah. Notwithstanding Whitlock and his mental challenged compatriots like Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Craig James, et al., and Mack Brown’s whining, there is no (as in ZERO) justification for throwing out Texas Tech (a flukey team, according to Whitlock) and comparing only the other two head to head. Even in the case of a two way tie, head to head is not a logical way of breaking the tie. It is merely a convenient way.

The question that gets lost in the shuffle is: Why is Team A (Texas in this case) only tied for the lead if it won the head to head game with team B (OU)?

The answer, of course, is that, the rest of the time, it was losing more games. In this case, Texas was 6-1 in other conference games, 4-1 in games vs. common opponents (the South plus KU), and 3-1 vs. the South. Meanwhile, OU was better in all comparisons: 7-0, 5-0, and 4-0. What the head-to-headers insist on is that OU beat Texas by two games (8-0 to 6-2) or stay home because they lost the wrong one.

Not saying that OU is necessarily more deserving than UT. Just saying that the argument that UT should be given preference because they beat OU head to head—a questionable argument even in a two team situation--is ludicrous in a three way.

And, no, the fact that Tech lost much (if not all) of its credibility by losing a game by 44 points does not mean they should be removed from the equation, reducing the argument to two teams to then be decided by the outcome of the game between those two. UT did not make Tech irrelevant. Indeed, it was UT that made Tech relevant by losing to them. It was OU that is totally responsible for Tech’s fall from grace. The Sooners should be punished for being too good?

In a way, however, it is good that Texas is the team left out in the cold (barring a Mizzou upset of OU). Teams like Georgia, KU, and Auburn getting screwed will never lead to change in the system.

As they say in Austin, “Money Talks.” A few more of the big boys getting screwed will eventually lead to a decent playoff format involving teams and conferences throughout the country. Not this year, for sure. Maybe not in the next few years. But the more teams like UT, Ohio St, Southern Cal, and other blue (or should I say green) bloods get the short end of the BCS stick, the more likely a REAL playoff system becomes.

As a certain playoff proponent would declare: “Yes, We Can!”

Addendum:

A friend of PB has noted that KU is UT's only road win against a team with a winning record, while OU beat a better OSU team and TT beat both KU and 7-5 Nevada. OU also scheduled a non-conference road game against a BCS opponent (Washington, which admittedly sucked this year), while UT didn't even leave their home state to play at UTEP. Further, OU beat two BCS top 15 schools in non-conference play (TCU and Cincinnati), while UT didn't play anyone in the top 25, so OU is 4-1 vs. the BCS top 15 (all wins by at least 20 points), while UT is only 2-1 (neither win by more than 10 points.) Against the whole BCS top 25 UT is 3-1. OU can move to 5-1 by beating MU on Saturday.

Barack Obama approves this message. . .

It was gratifying to learn that our President-elect is a long time reader of the PhogBlog. In an interview with Chris Berman on the eve of the election, he echoed PB’s call on January 1, 2006 for an eight team college football playoff: “"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football. I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams — the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a National Champion." More specifically, the system proposed by PB is as follows:

1. Take the conference champion of each of the BCS conferences and two at-large teams—i.e., the two highest ranked remaining teams, or perhaps a mandatory slot for the highest ranked non-BCS team as one of the two teams. This Elite 8 would maintain the integrity and importance of the regular season, a concern often cited by the anti-playoff forces.

2. Use the four BCS Bowls for the Elite 8 games on or around January 1. Leave all other bowl games in place. They would be the nice rewards for the teams and alumni, with no effect on the big picture, just as they have always been. It also results in all four BCS bowl games being important instead of just one. Not to mention three more, for a total of seven games that matter—rather than the present singleton.

It would also result in a true champion being crowned for the first time in over 100 years of college football. The sport would join the civilized world in letting the best teams compete head to head with each other for the right to be called “champion,” rather than rely on the same method used to decide beauty pageants for ten year olds, diving, gymnastics, and ballroom dancing: i.e., opinions based on inherent biases. And, worse yet, unlike these other Opinion Driven events, Division 1 football does not even present the competitors to the scorers in an equal setting. Instead, teams play highly dissimilar schedules, with a major advantage enjoyed by teams in lesser conferences, because being undefeated in a weak conference with no playoff is given priority over being 12-1 in a meat grinder conference (such as the SEC) with an extra hurdle, sometimes a huge one, at the end of the regular season.

So what’s the problem? It isn’t money. The dollars to be made from a seven game championship series would dwarf what is now in play for the four meaningless BCS Bowls plus the Pretend National Championship Game.

Nor has any rational excuse been offered by the opponents of progress. The most common of the Bogus Arguments, as pointed out in our previous post in 2006, are:

Bogus Argument No. 1: Academics

Let’s see: We have two teams play one extra week and two additional teams teams play two. In January. Between semesters.

Why is it that academics is an important consideration in Division 1 football, but not in Division II or lower? Or in basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf, and all other sports that have multiple weeks of championship competition? Is it that Division 1 football players are not as smart as these other athletes?

If anything, Division 1 football players are better suited for coping academically with post-season games than their counterparts at other levels or in other sports. Unlike basketball, and virtually all other sports, the football playoff would be played when school is out. What Division 1 schools are in session January 1-20? If there are any, it is a marked exception, not the rule.

Bogus Argument No. 2: Too Many Games

This argument is not only bogus, it is hypocritical.

This pretend concern about the wear and tear on the athlete was used as a reason for not extending the season with a playoff when there was a nine game regular season. That didn’t stop the powers that be from adding a tenth game. Then an eleventh. And now a twelfth. With exemptions for “charity” games prior to the normal start of the season, exemptions for games in Hawaii, conference championship games, and bowl games, there have already been teams that have played 14 games. In fact, in 2002, Nebraska went 7-7, including the Independence Bowl, and would have played a fifteenth game had the Huskers won the Big 12 North and qualified for the conference championship.

Further, if there is a concern about the number of football games, why does it apply only to Division 1?

Bogus Argument No. 3: It would diminish the importance of the regular season

This argument’s premise is that EVERY regular season game now is big, because one loss can, and often will, cost a team any chance of playing for the national championship. EVERY game, the argument goes, is a playoff game. For example, Penn State just lost to Iowa on a last second field goal, and is now no more than an afterthought in the pretend National Championship picture.

The primary problems with this assertion are:

The regular season “playoff” games are not against each other. Florida, for example, defeats LSU, Auburn, and Georgia, and is then kicked out of the national championship picture because it has a letdown against Ole Miss? Why should teams like Oregon St or Ole Miss determine the Pretend National Championship Game participants? Why should teams in the ACC or Big East benefit by the fact that USC failed to get up for Oregon St early in the season? What argument is there for not having best teams playing each other, with equal motivation, and an identical task?

This “every game is a playoff game” theory has created an atmosphere of timid scheduling that robs us of truly compelling intersectional games from September through November. It is responsible for uncompetitive games between powerhouse programs and second, third, or even fourth level programs like Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice, Maine, Central Michigan, Middle Tennessee St, Appalachian St, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Indiana St, Sam Houston St, etc. Who in his right mind would not prefer a fall afternoon or evening watching games like Alabama/Texas, Michigan/Florida, Oklahoma/Ohio St–or even Michigan St/Texas Tech or Virginia Tech/Cal?

No, a playoff system that places an emphasis on winning your conference and playing a strong non-conference schedule (to qualify for one of only one or two at large slots) would create MORE important regular season games, within and without the conference schedule-and better games..

Bogus Argument No. 4: It would diminish the importance of the other bowl games

This is the most laughable argument of all. How do you diminish something that does not exist? Currently, there is one, and occasionally two-bowls that matter, and 30 or so that do not. With the playoff system proposed here, there will be more games that matter (seven). The others will remain as “important” and as relevant as they are under the present system: i.e., the football equivalent of the NIT.

Bogus Argument No. 5: A playoff would leave only one team with a successful season

This argument is that, with a playoff, rather than having 30 or so teams conclude their season with a win, there would be only one. Every other team would look back on their season with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Obviously, this assertion is nonsensical.

First, under the system proposed here, 30 or so teams (not one) would end their seasons with victories: the national champion and all of the other bowl winners.

Second, the additional three losers in the final two rounds would not likely consider themselves losers. Just making it to that point will be a badge of honor--as is making the Final Four in basketball. In fact, it would more likely be celebrated with new banners hanging in the stadium and contract extensions for the coaches.

Bogus Argument No. 6: The logistics would be too difficult

Yeah, right! We can run a three week 65 game neutral court tournament, with 14 sites, in basketball, but can’t figure out how to play three extra football games in two weeks.

My guess is that all the brains at all of the NCAA colleges, plus the television networks, with virtually unlimited resources, could figure it out.

Or I’ll do it. Play the extra three games at one of the four major bowl sites and rotate the honor. Or play the semi-final games at one site and the final game at another-and rotate these sites.

Oh, the detractors say, but the fans! How could they possibly afford the time and expense required to make all these games? Maybe they could--as many now do for three consecutive weekends of basketball in March and April, or maybe they couldn’t. If they can’t make it, they can watch it on T.V. I would take my chances on filling the stands with locals and a goodly showing by the participating schools. Especially if you make the tickets affordable-and why shouldn’t they be with all the TV money this spectacle would garner.

Bogus Argument No. 7: But the No. 9 team. . .

This argument is one I have never followed. If the controversy moves from whether an undefeated Auburn team is left out of a one game playoff to whether Oregon or West Virginia is left out of an eight game field, that’s a good thing.

The first team out in a two team field can make a strong argument that it was the best team in all the land and was unfairly prevented from proving it.

The argument for the No. 9 team is much less compelling. You have only yourself to blame by not winning your conference.

In other words, a controversy at the top of the food chain is important. The further down the food chain this controversy is moved the better. If 116 teams were allowed in, there would still be a controversy between the last team chosen and the 117th team. But who would care-other than the 117th team?

If you are left out of a two team playoff, it might be the system’s fault. If you are left out of an eight team playoff, with six automatic qualifiers, it is your own fault.

In conclusion, as long as only two teams are chosen to participate in one game to be declared the national champions, that title continues to be mythical. It is, in reality, nothing more than a game for the championship of two conferences: or even less if, somehow, both teams are from the same conference, or from no conference at all, a la Notre Dame.

Even the 2006 game between Texas and Southern Cal, where the BCS purportedly “got it right,” was not for the National Championship. It decided nothing more than championship of the Big 12/PAC-10. Who is to say that one or more teams from the SEC or elsewhere was not better than both? If Penn St, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Florida St, and West Virginia or Oregon had been invited to the party, the winner would have been both REAL (as opposed to a myth) and to have gained its title the old-fashioned way-by earrrrrrrning it.

If the United States of America can elect a black President named Barack Hussein Obama, maybe even the presidents of the Division 1 universities can wise up and initiate an eight team playoff because it is the smart thing to do. And college presidents are supposed to be smart—notwithstanding Mizzou.

--Mark

Final BCS Computer Rankings Composite

The BCS doesn't do this, so I figured I would. KU ended up 7th according to the voters, but the computers, who don't know the difference between a Buckeye and a Jayhawk, nor the difference between having a The in front of your University name and not having one, tell a different story. I took the 6 final computer rankings and composited them to get a Final Unadulterated Computer Composite Ranking (FUCCR) for the BCS, you know, since they don't do it.

You can fake it if all the computers are issued. i've done a quick and dirty compositing below. It's not exactly how the BCS does it, but it's more comprehensible in this scenario.

Here's links to all of the computers in the BCS.

Anderson & Hester Official Website> Kansas finishes 2nd (LSU is third) Richard Billingsley Official Website Kansas finishes 2nd Colley Matrix Official Website Kansas finishes 5th Kenneth Massey Official Website Kansas finishes 3rd Sagarin Official Website (part of USAToday.com) Kansas finishes 2nd Dr. Peter Wolfe Official Website KU finishes 2nd

Toss out the outliers (one of the 2's and the five) and that means KU's final composite is

(2+2+2+3) / 4 = 2.25 in the computers

Final Unadulterated Computer Composite Rankings (FUCCR):

1 LSU is 3,1,1,1,1,1 (composite: 1) 2 KU is 2,2,5,3,2,2 (composite 2.25) 3 Georgia is 5,6,7,2,2,3 (composite: 4) 4 Mizzou is 1,7,3,4,6,5 (composite: 4.5) 5 USC is 4,3,6,5,4,6 (composite: 4.75)

I didn't do any further than that, but any of you are welcome to do it.

The bottom line is that our computer ranking is a lot better than anyone besides LSU's.

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